“Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what colour we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                             John Denver.

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For centuries humans have gathered around music, our ancestors have always given relevance to music, even in ancient societies such as Greece and Rome it was considered part of their worship of the gods and even today it is a fundamental part of religious culture. And in contemporary societies, musicians are considered creative idols, not only because of their creative and musical expression but also because of the dedication they show in their musical approaches and the achievement of their goals.

This path could only be carried out with practice, correction and the acquisition of tools that benefit the development of the artist. Showing oneself publicly is the natural way to promote one’s professional career. Today it is necessary to have an account on social networks to be seen by many people, however, music contests can offer a little more than visibility. Mainly because they offer the possibility to meet influential people in the industry, travel, meet other musicians and above all the opportunity to gain knowledge through masterclasses even with world-class artists. For this reason, our post today is dedicated to music festivals and their evolution.

The 1920’s and the First World War

In the 1920s, reviews of classical music and concerts were prominent in the New York newspapers. Still, the critics’ sympathy was only dedicated to names already recognized in the field of music. However, Walter Wehle Naumburg, a wealthy banker, philanthropist and musicologist dedicated part of his fortune to promoting interest in symphonic and semi-classical music, helping to establish the New York Oratory Society and had the idea of ​​creating free concerts in Central Park. The Naumburg Competition  was established in 1905 and has been in force to date. The first competition included pianists, violinists and cellists and sometime later vocalists were included. Since 1970 the Naumburg contest has alternated between piano, strings and voice, although it has also been performed with an emphasis on flute, clarinet and classical guitar. Contest winners have the opportunity to make their own recording, perform two recitals at Alice Tully Hall,  and receive a cash prize. This contest has been cataloged as one of the oldest and most prestigious of all.

At the same time in Warsaw, one of the few competitions dedicated to a single composer was founded, for this reason, it bears his name, Chopin. In 1927 when the pianist, teacher and conductor Jerzy Żurawlew gave rise to the piano competition, which would later become one of the members of the World Federation of International Music Competitions in Geneva. It is still in force, its last edition was in 2021 and they are already inviting the 22nd edition on their social networks.

music competitions canada


Subsidized by the city of Geneva and supported by many local sponsors, this competition created by Henri Gagnebin and Frédéric Liebstoeckl in 1939 under the name of Concours international d’exécution musicale de Genève (CIEM) is also part of the World Federation of International Music Competitions. It offers its applicants advice and concerts for its winners for the two years following their award, and for some time now it has also held a gala with the winners each year. This contest survived in Europe during the second world war and during this period it helped refugee artists with monetary prizes.

Another contest of great value is the Queen Elisabeth Competition, created on her own initiative with the aim of helping young musicians to launch their careers internationally by offering them participation in television and radio media, as well as building an important network of contacts. This competition is one of the most attractive for pianists, violinists and composers, it takes place in Brussels and was created in 1951 by the violinist and conductor Eugène Ysaÿe and Queen Elizabeth. During World War II, Marguerite Long invited her violinist friend Jacques Thibaud to create a contest by donating her entire fortune. The competition was initially called The Concours International Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud. It takes place in Paris and includes piano, violin and open singing for young talents from all over the world. However, in its beginnings, due to the war, it only had the participation of French artists. Due to the high number of competitions worldwide since 1983, the contest is held every two years, one highlighting Violin and the next the piano. In 2011 the contest changed its name in honour of the soprano Régine Crespi and is now known as the Concours Long-Thibaud-Crespin.

The ARD International Music Competition is the largest exponent of classical music in Germany, it was created by Radio Frankfurt and began attracting young soloists between 1947 and 1950. Instrumental categories such as voice and chamber ensembles change every year as the competition is celebrated every year. It is also a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions.

Currently, there are countless music festivals and competitions around the world. Some are well known because they are televised, such as The Voice or Eurovision, which are followed by thousands of people given the economic and development benefits they offer their winners. In addition, they allow the audience to be closer to their favourite artists who play the role of coaches and judges. However, local competitions are also an excellent alternative for professional growth and learning for the artist. In addition to offering a window in front of regional, national and international music connoisseurs, they offer the possibility of improving their technique guided by the adjudicator who hopefully will offer the best techniques and knowledge to take the student to the next level.

If you are interested in entering a festival, or competition, search our Competitions and Festivals in Canada.

If you are developing your music career and want to make yourself known sign up with Music in Motion Canada.